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St Michael and All Angels, Lilleshall, Shropshire

(52°44′4″N, 2°24′10″W)
SJ 729 153
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Shropshire
now Telford and Wrekin
  • Barbara Zeitler
  • Ron Baxter
14 May 2019 (RB), 24 March 1999 (BZ)

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Lilleshall is a village in the east of central Shropshire, 15 miles E of Shrewsbury. The high street runs to the S of the A518 between Telford and Newport, and St Michael's church stands towards its southern end. The village is best known for the ruined 12-13thc Augustinian abbey a mile to the S of the modern settlement, which is the subject of a separate report. The former Hall is now the home of Lilleshall National Sports Centre.

St Michael's is a sandstone building with a broad, long, aisleless chancel with a N organ chamber, a nave with a 5-bay N aisle and a S porch, and a W tower. Of these, the nave is late-12thc with its original shafted doorway protected by a 19thc porch. The chancel also has a 12thc S doorway, but the fabric is substantially of the 13thc, enlarged in the 14thc. The N nave aisle dates from c.1300 and the W tower is of 1500-50. In the mid-19thc it was necessary to rebuild the S wall, and this was done by John Norton in 1856. At this time a second doorway was reset towards the E end of the nave, and blocked. The features described below are the two S nave doorways, the chancel S doorway and the font,


Lilleshall was held in 1066 as a prebendal estate by St Alkmund's collegiate church, Shrewsbury, and in 1086 it was held from the church by Godebold the priest, presumably as a prebend. The manor was assessed at 10 hides with a mill and a league of woodland. Godebald was a clerk of Roger of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, and VCH suggests that St Alkmund's held the manor from him. Earl Roger's son Robert forfeited his lands in 1102, and it was held by Richard of Beaumais (Bishop of London from 1108) until his death in 1127, when Henry I granted it to Richard's nephew (also Richard). This Richard became Dean of St Alkmund's and in 1145 he conveyed the manor to Arrouaisian (Augustinian) canons from Dorchester (Oxfordshire) for a new abbey, which they established on a site at Lilleshall. The manor of Lilleshall remained as demesne of the abbey until it was dissolved in 1538.


Exterior Features





The font was discovered in use as a flower vase and was restored to the church by the Rev. John Blunt (vicar 1815-43). It was placed in its present location in 1856, and the medieval encaustic tiles on which it stands were found in the floor of the chancel at the same time. Early estimates of its date range from the 10thc to the 12thc, but it is clear now that it belongs to the 12thc and is related at the production stage to the fonts at Edgmond and Shawbury (Shropshire), and Church Eaton and Bradley (Staffordshire). Similar motifs are also found on stringcourses at Gnosall. A date of c.1120-40 seems likely. The two S nave doorways date from the end of the 12thc, perhaps 1190-1210. The back-to-back chevron is also found at Lilleshall Abbey (without the angle roll).

A notice welcoming visitors to the church has been attached to the 12thc 1st order arch of the S nave doorway. While the sentiment is appreciated, it is to be hoped that this is a temporary notice, and that no damage has been done to the medieval stonework by its attachment.


D. Butterfield, A Guide to St Michael and All Angels Lilleshall, Shropshire with St John the Evangelist Muxton, Church guide 1969, 3rd ed. 1993.

Historic England listed building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 362263

J. Newman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire New Haven and London 2006, 325-26.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire, Harmondsworth 1958, 165-66.

Victoria County History: Shropshire, 11, 1985, 145-76.